I was invited to attend the 2nd Annual C.H.A.M.P.S. “Born 2 Win” Conference on Saturday, June 3, 2017. It was held at the Gary Comer Youth Center on the southside of Chicago. I had a later engagement so I knew I couldn’t stay very long, but guess who stayed until after 12p.m. because she was so intrigued? Yep, this gal! What an awesome event. My sons and I had the best time and walked away with free gifts but most importantly a bevy of knowledge.
Every Saturday for the past three (3) years Mr. Vondale Singleton has been dedicated to the C.H.A.M.P.S. (Culturally Helping and Making Positive Success) male mentoring program. He is the assistant principal at Gary Comer College Prep. (Google him) He began the event with prayer and the C.H.A.M.P.S. chant to stand up for peace. Mr. Singleton stated that a lot of people haven’t sold out to the gangs and gun violence in Chicago. He is committed to transforming the lives of our youth and making the world better.
Mr. Singleton asked his students to name the 3(E)’s that would change their lives forever. Their response: Education, Empowerment and Exposure. #Powerful, to say the least! There were people and sponsors from all over in attendance to support this conference and I understand why.
The host, Damon Williams, lightened up the room with comedy catered to the kids. He explained the importance of fighting for our male youth. We were entertained by rapper, Asia, with her footworking skills and my seven (7) year old was in a trance. Sponsor, Nike, gifted seven (7) honorees with their Southside Air Force 1’s, which was specifically made for their 10 year anniversary. There are only 60 currently made.
Simeon Career Academy graduate KaVonte a/k/a Yah-key took the stage initially with ski-masks on and I’m thinking, “ole Lawd what I get myself into?” The crowd loved it and it was definitely “lit”. While throwing #Godwork shirts into the crowd; we were entertained by his song, Favor. KaVonte is the founder of God Work Foundation – where they help and teach the youth how to build computers from the ground up and gave away some free computers, as well.
Next up.. The Panelists left the audience with a hand full of gems. I’m hoping my 13 year old caught on! The conductor of the panel was Daryl (owner/ personality) of 106.3 Sundays 9-10 p.m; ” the gleaming mountain of success is a pile of trash”; Dwayne Bryant (Author) – The Stop: Improving Policing & Community Relations “know who you are, remember who you are, and know your power”; Ronald S Carpenter (Navy) “fail as much as you can because failures become the great leaders”; Christopher Goins (Mentor) “2% of the teaching force are black men”; Stacey L. Smith (DGB Maritime); Pastor Clarence Boyd ” never settle for the MAN and miss the KING”; Dr. Michael McGee (Northwestern Memorial Hospital.)- “be all you can”.
We were entertained by the dapper South Shore Drill Team, who took us from their smooth moves of The Five Heartbeats to then juking to house music. All six (6) of them owned the stage. The crowd lost it when DLow and Lil Kemo graced the stage with the DLow Shuffle. My fellas were in awe, the (13) year old smiled from ear to ear, the (7) year old dropped his jaw, that was his favorite song, especially “stomp like you mad.” Funny Fact: all this time I was thinking “chemo” walk is kinda mean but maybe it’s encouraging patients; Lord knows I had no idea this young man’s name was Kemo. (I’m laughing at myself). They left their tour to attend this conference and called all of the kids on stage to dance with them.
Big Rob the Motivator expressed to the youth the importance of claiming who you are? He explained his super power, “I wake up everyday with the intention to save somebody’s life!” Big Rob buried the procrastination and excuses because the difference between good and the greatest there ever was… is choice!
The last of the entertainment I saw, due to my schedule, was A. dot rapping to Rapper Dreams and GZOG Nation who did all of the latest dances to a compilation of songs. Wonder if they give lessons? #asking4afriend 🙂 In the final moments the host, Damon Williams, called all the champs to the stage, which included every single child. There was a special song dedicated to Mr. Vondale Singleton. I remain confident of this, I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13).
The spirit that was continual throughout the conference was positivity. This conference is pivotal to Chicago’s youth. No good thing does the Lord withhold from those who walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11). I felt incredibly honored to attend this conference because every youth was exposed, educated and empowered by men who looked like them; came from similar environments as them and ultimately chose to be the Greater Him!
S/O to the sponsors, donors and contributors: Nike, Queens, Noble, Elevate Chicago #chartersforchange, King A.E.P, Gary Comer Youth Center, South Shore Drill Team, Fearless Leaders Group, DBG Maritime Consulting, Safe and whomever I missed I do apologize. Your contributions continue to encourage and give our children hope.
*I purposely took pictures from afar*